×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Children of Hurin

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the pre-rings dept.

Book Reviews 209

stoolpigeon writes "Throughout much of his life, J.R.R. Tolkien worked on a series of stories set in his well known middle earth. A few he considered his "Great Tales" and he would return to them often, writing them multiple times and in multiple forms. One story that he worked on often over many years was the tale of Hurin and his children Turin and Nienor. Following his death, Tolkien's youngest son Christopher has worked to collect, edit and publish much of what his father wrote but never published. The tale of Hurin's children has been told in part already in some of those works. But it is in this book that for the first time the complete tale is told from start to finish of The Children of Hurin." Read below for the rest of JR's review.Some insight from what I think of this book is revealed in the fact that I preordered a copy before it was published last year. I was very excited when it arrived, made it about a third of the way through and then set it aside for quite a while. It was just recently that I saw my copy sitting on a book shelf and decided that I would finish it. It really didn't take too much time. The story is not very long. The reason I had trouble was because I had been hoping for something along the lines of "The Hobbit" or "The Lord of the Rings", Tolkien's most widely read efforts. They read like most modern novels, whereas much of the material published since Tolkien's death is written in a more classical and frankly, difficult to read style. Christopher acknowledges that those works are perceived in this manner in his preface by stating, "It is undeniable that there are a very great many readers of 'The Lord of the Rings' for whom the legends of the Elder Days (as previously published in varying forms in 'The Silmarillion', 'Unfinished Tales', and 'The History of Middle-earth') are altogether unknown, unless by their repute as strange and inaccessible in mode and manner." I have read the first two from that list of three and would say that yes, they are in many ways work to read.

Unfortunately I didn't find "The Children of Hurin" to be much more approachable or easy to enjoy. I think that Christopher's motivation is to bring these tales to a wider audience, but I doubt very much he succeeded. There are a few problems that plague the book. The first is that there is a constant use of proper names, for places and people, that for most readers will be unfamiliar. Not only that, they will be difficult to pronounce. The book does have a small pronunciation guide in the beginning, but the bottom line is that often I felt like I was reading a book written in another language. To some extent it is, Tolkien's own elvish tongue. But without some familiarity or explanation much of it just slides past and makes reading the story difficult. Main characters change names throughout the story and keeping track of it all can be difficult. Here is a short paragraph about Hurin's wife Morwen.

"Hurin wedded Morwen, the daught of Baradund son of Gregolas of the House of Beor, and she was thus of close kin to Beren One-hand. Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Eledhwen, the elfen-fair; but she was somewhat stern of mood and proud. The sorrows of the house of Beor saddened her heart; for she came as an exile to Dorlomin from Dorthonion after the ruin of the Bragollach."

That isn't an unusual passage. That is the style and much like most of the entire book. Antiquated english with an immense amount of proper names and relationships constantly spread throughout.

The setting is Beleriand, some 6500 years before the events of "The Lord of the Rings". This land would eventually be mostly destroyed in a war that would end the First Age. So the places do not correspond to the landscape of middle-earth in "The Hobbit" or "The Lord of the Rings." The main evil in the land is Morgoth. He has come to middle-earth and set up shop in Angband. Hurin, a man, dares to defy Morgoth. Morgoth captures him and binds him to watch what befalls his wife and children that Morgoth has cursed.

This curse and how it works itself out is the redeeming quality of the story. The vast majority of the book focuses on Turin. He is an amazing warrior and leader of men. At the same time he is incredibly proud and rarely listens to anyone else. This failure of character on his part is pushed along by the malevolence of Morgoth and so a flawed man is also trapped in the machinations of an evil power. The working of the story brought to mind the great Greek tragedies. The reader confronts issues of fate and free will. It is a beautiful story, it is just not written in a manner that is going to connect well with a modern audience. And I doubt J.R.R. Tolkien would have ever released it in the present state. This may sound presumptuous on my part. In fact I know it is, but in the first appendix Christopher gives a history of how this tale developed as well as snippets from the other versions that existed.

J.R.R. had begun to tell the story in verse. The small sections of that poetry that are given in the appendix to this work, and that go beyond what was published in "The Lost Tales" is much more descriptive and beautiful than what is given in "The Children of Hurin". Often Children reads more like a history book than a novel. The facts are all there, and at times the life is too. But too often it just feels like a listing of facts about events, people and places.

So how can I rate the book as a 7 out of 10 with all these issues? Well for some people, nothing that gives them more information about middle-earth and its history can be bad. They are probably cursing my name in the tongue of Mordor at this very moment. They loved "The Silmarillion" and they probably adored this work too. I share some of their passion, and despite its weakness, I did enjoy this story, especially once I had moved fully through the telling and could look at the arc of the entire story. It is a work of great skill and though I don't think it is Tolkien's best, it is still much better than many others.

For someone who is a casual fan or answers "I've seen the movies" when you ask them about "The Lord of the Rings", this is not something they would probably enjoy. Getting them "The Hobbit" to read would probably be a more pleasant experience for everyone involved. Or just wait and see if New Line can ever get done with the legal barriers and make a film of that was well.

The edition that I bought and matches the ISBN I've given is a hard-cover with beautiful art by Alan Lee. The cover dust jacket is gorgeous and there are full color illustrations throughout. The appendixes include the history of the tales as I've mentioned, genealogies, a list of names and a map of Beleriand. There is also a preface, slightly longer introduction and pronunciation guide. The preface, introduction and appendixes were all written by Christopher Tolkien.

You can purchase The Children of Hurin from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

209 comments

Non-Tolkien material in these completions (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731014)

Christopher Tolkien thanked Guy Kay in the acknowledgements to The Silmarillion [amazon.com] , but it's never been clear to be what Christopher Tolkien was forced to fill in on his own in this posthumous works. What about The Silmarillion or this work is from the hand of another fantasy writer?

Re:Non-Tolkien material in these completions (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731056)

Christopher Tolkien thanked Guy Kay in the acknowledgements to The Silmarillion [amazon.com] , but it's never been clear to be what Christopher Tolkien was forced to fill in on his own in this posthumous works. What about The Silmarillion or this work is from the hand of another fantasy writer?


He does make it clear in the History of Middle Earth series that the chapter that had to be pretty much written from the ground up was the Fall of Doriath. The only complete narrative of that event dated back to the Book of Lost Tales, and there were serious problems with JRRT's own later envisionment of this key event. To get the Silmarillion to a point where it was publishable, CJRT was forced to write a new version, which he did with Kay's assistance.

Re:Non-Tolkien material in these completions (2, Informative)

bkaul01 (619795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732052)

In this work, Christopher Tolkien is very clear about what his role was: choosing which version of his father's words to use. All of the words are J.R.R. Tolkien's. The Silmarillion does not deviate far from that standard, either. It's the Histories of Middle Earth where you'll find much of Christopher's own writing ... and then, it's typically a recounting of the history of the writing of the epics by his father, more often than it is actual "Middle Earth mythology" in a direct fashion.

WTF? (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731026)

It's been out for a year.

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

andawyr (212118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731130)

He's the first one to finish it.....

I agree with much of what he said in the review - I tried to read The Silmarillion, but just couldn't get into it. I too was expecting a LOtR experience, was was very much disappointed by what I found.

I'm certainly not alone.

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731168)

I read it within a couple of days of getting it (I got it Father's Day). Of course, I'm a bit of a JRRT buff, and I've the HoME series from start to finish twice. My problem is that it's simply a merging of the two major versions of the story, and nothing particularly new. It's rather like a Who's greatest hits compilation, one song different, but other than that all the same.

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

Cesium12 (1065628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731250)

Well, HoME is pretty much a collection of stories with commentary. It's not a proper novel, and it is somewhat intimidating, because of the huge body of work and correspondence Tolkien amassed. There may be nothing new for devoted fans, but it's a self-contained book and slightly more approachable.

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732066)

That's why it's a huge pile of fail.

There's a ton of new stuff in HoME that's separate from Silmarilion (and Unfinished Tales) that could be threaded into the story without contradicting what we already know. Just off the top of my head from the beginning of Lost Tales:

-the magical alloy "tilkal" invented by Aule, used in the chain to bind Melkor
-expansion of the last fruit/leaf of the two trees and how they were crafted into the Sun and Moon
-I'm sure there was something about foretelling the moon/sun chase being responsible for letting Melkor back into the world through the Gates of Morning

"Editors" will say not everything that the author comes up with should be put in the end product, but Chris Tolkien seemed determined to give us everything. So why not spend the time to weave it all into the story, work in what you can, and where versions conflict, just pick the best aspects?

Re:WTF? (1)

tcolberg (998885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732640)

It sounds like we, the readers, need to seek out the Prothean Cipher to fully understand... what? Oh sorry, wrong epic!

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

andawyr (212118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731266)

Well, you're certainly ahead of me :-) I doubt if I'll ever read it, let alone buy it.

I remember quite clearly the huge excitement when it was announced that 'Children' was going to be published - I also remember thinking that a lot of people were going to be disappointed when the book was released, since I *knew* that it was going to be 'unreadable' for most people.

I haven't heard much about the book since it was released, so I think my assumption about the popularity of the book was correct. To 'true' fans, 'Children', and all other books by JRR will always be popular; to the general populace, The Hobbit and LoTR are pretty much it.

It's somewhat sad, since JRR created a huge amount of content. However, when it's written in a style that's as difficult to read as his 'other' books are, they'll remain, for the most part, obscure.

Re:WTF? (2, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731980)

The one incarnation of his work that I enjoy is the bbc radio adaption of Lord of the Rings. All bar the singing, which is hideous.

Aside from that I find his work laborious to read, and not sufficiently entertaining to warrant the effort. Most of it seems like a required reading exercise, and the extreme attention to detail, which I am sure some enjoy, comes across as an extended history lesson, not entertainment.

I suspect it takes a real passion for his work to read everything he wrote. I appreciate his talent in creating his fantasy world, one that underpins all modern fantasy to some extent, but I much prefer reading some of the lighter weight variants on his general theme.

Re:WTF? (1)

Nqdiddles (805995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732628)

Children is not as daunting as you seem to think. I'm the sort of person who gets a little bored with some of the more encyclopedic works, but this is NOT one of them.
A friend loaned me his copy and I finished it in an afternoon.
It's dark, depressing and in my opinion an excellent "tragedy".
After reading it I went and bought the book, because unlike the Book of Lost Tales I actually enjoyed reading this through to the end and will no doubt do so again. ymmv though.

Re:WTF? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732664)

"It's somewhat sad, since JRR created a huge amount of content. However, when it's written in a style that's as difficult to read as his 'other' books are, they'll remain, for the most part, obscure."

I have always felt that Tolken, while great at making up interesting people, places and events, was a rather crappy writer. His books were unnecessarily difficult to read, often long winded, and the stories seemed fractured. I understand that he had very detailed ideas about what his stories looked like, but I think he tended to let the details get in the way of the story.

This is why I've always thought that he would have been much better working in modern film than he was at writing books. Of course if he had been born at a time that allowed him to work in modern film, who knows what else would have been different.

Re:WTF? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731316)

I'm about half way through HoME which I got this christmas. Very enjoyable, although I often find myself thumbing to the index to find the 'other' names for people or places. Yes, a lot of folks, Turin especially, have 3-6 names throughout the tale.

Re:WTF? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732032)

I read it between that evening and the next day after I got it (and I pre-ordered it, as well). I've read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and many other books as well. I found The Children of Hurin to be more of an expanded version of what it was in The Silmarillion/Unfinished Tales, and I loved it. No, it's nothing particularly new - what do you expect, it's not like Christopher is actually rewriting the story. His dad already wrote it; Christopher can't add to the story. I'd much rather read something compiled or edited by Christopher, not co-written by Christopher.

Re:WTF? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732266)

My point is that I already own all the material via the History of Middle Earth for which this version is cobbled. Most of it, in fact, is pretty much from the Unfinished Tales version.

Re:WTF? (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732304)

It's rather like a Who's greatest hits compilation, one song different, but other than that all the same.

Ah, a Led Zeppelin greatest hits: "The Song Remains The Same". (Ironically on the second CD of "Remasters", which is mostly forgettable - the first CD rocks, though.)

Re:WTF? (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731246)

The Silmarillion was far and away my favourite Tolkien work - well, the Ainulindale was a bit of a slog, but the rest of it is sublime.

Mine as well (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731998)

I loved The Silmarillion as well. My favorite work by the good prof. Only part that was difficult for me was "Beleriand and its Realms". Now *that* was a slog - a 20 or so page geography lesson.

As for the book review I have a problem with this:

Well for some people, nothing that gives them more information about middle-earth and its history can be bad. They are probably cursing my name in the tongue of Mordor at this very moment. They loved "The Silmarillion" and they probably adored this work too. I share some of their passion, and despite its weakness, I did enjoy this story

If you don't like The Silmarillion, it's probably best that you don't review Tolkien's even more obscure work. The farther you wander from The Hobbit, the deeper the water gets.

Re:WTF? (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731440)

I as well. It reminded me of reading the Old Testament, only made up. (As Tolkien was described as a devout Roman Catholic, that really doesn't surprise me.)

Yet, placed in the proper context, I found that the particular tone found in the Silmarillion makes for a nice change-of-pace in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, usually found when Elrond goes off into one of his stories, or Tolkien himself uses that tone as an aside to the reader.

I could see myself reading The Hobbit to my kids someday when I have kids, though.

Re:WTF? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731748)

Try it again in a few years. Worked for me.

I guess you need to let it settle in for a bit, to get a grip on the massive amount of story, before you can read it through. Pretend you already know the story and just reading a summary. After all, that's really what it is.

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731838)

I read The Hobbit to my seven year old son, which he liked tremendously. As soon as we finished, he immediately asked, "Is there a Hobbit II?"

Questions like that just make you want to sigh. It is sad that Tolkien finished so few books.

They say Tolkien was the kind of writer who never let go of a manuscript until it was ripped from his unwilling hands. "Hobbit II" was exactly what LotR started out to be; it ended up being the final episode of the Silmarillion, bringing to an end the Elvish presence in Middle Earth.

Think about that. Practically every chapter in the Silmarillion would be an entire LotR sized work, if it were expanded to the scale it had in Tolkien's head. The story of the Children of Hurin is not exception. It wants to be over a thousand pages of lush mythopoetic prose. What it is, as published, is a couple of hundred pages of story sketches reworked into reasonably acceptable narrative consistency.

Furthermore, it is not finshed by a writer with J.R.R. Tolkien's gift for language. It's not that there aren't occasional bad pieces of prose in LotR, which in a work that size is not surprising. But there is so much that is so elegantly written and perceptively detailed in it. Reading the Silmarillion, and The Children of Hurin, is like reading a plot synopsis of a great opera. Some operas have better plots than others, but it's never the plot that makes them great.

Some day, when the works have gone into the public domain, there may be writers who successfully turn their hand into finishing the pieces from Tolkien's mythology. Sadly, most of us will not live to see that day.

Re:WTF? (2, Interesting)

tubs (143128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732834)

The Silmarillion is a story that spans thousand of year with casts of hundreds - some of which are mentioned only a couple of times though they crop up at major times. There's also the problem (that I find) of many names being similar - Finrod, Fingon, Fingolfin, Finarfin.

But, I would say two things - get a Middle Earth Glossary and persevere.

The Silmarillion is a magnificent collection of legands of middle earth - full of love, honour, betrayal, greed, power, sadness, despair and hope.

It will take you 10 readings to see it all.

yes (1)

sdedeo (683762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731144)

I've just gotten finished burning all the books of mine published in 2007. Can't have any of those clogging up the house! Tomorrow I go for a memory erasure to make sure I don't think about them very much (or, hopefully, recall them at all.)

Beren and Luthien (2, Interesting)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731136)

I always loved the story of Beren and Luthien as told in the Simarilion and if any new book was compiled by Christopher I would prefer it to be a fuller and more expansive telling of this story. Although I can't complain about hearing more about Hurin and Turin..

Re:Beren and Luthien (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731224)

The problem with this (and The Fall of Doriath chapter is the exception) is that CJRT does not write or expand stories within his father's creation. The Beren/Luthien story was never really fully told beyond the earliest version from somewhere around 1916-1918. The later versions are rather short and to the point, which is pretty much why the published version is cobbled together from.

Quite frankly, probably the greatest loss, to my mind, are the planned large expansions that JRRT was going to make to the Tuor saga (which is a much more hopeful one than the bleak tale of Turor). By the time JRRT got around to having sufficient free time to work on an expanded Silmarillion, he was too old to complete it.

Kevin J Anderson is a talentless hack (0, Troll)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731150)

So is Children of Hurin a rare example of posthumous works not sucking?

Re:Kevin J Anderson is a talentless hack (1)

Sean Riordan (611520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731824)

Can't comment on Children of Hurin as I haven't read my copy yet, but I am wondering why so harsh in regards to Kevin J Anderson.
Sure, none of the prequels are on a level with Dune but what is. Even Frank couldn't maintain that level of writing. Messiah IMHO was not awful and not great. Most of God Emperor was a yawn fest. To each their own. I was just wondering what specifically you despised about Anderson's work. And is it only the stuff he has done alone, only the stuff he did with Brian Herbert, or both.

Re:Kevin J Anderson is a talentless hack (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732510)

I think the difference is that Herbert, even in his worst moments, was at least trying to communicate certain philosophical and political points. These prequels are just badly written, badly plotted crap jobs. They're not very good on their own, and don't stand up well to even the last of Herbert's Dune books (which weren't all that good either).

I would have much preferred Brian Herbert to have done what Christopher Tolkien did, which is to release the notes, plot lines and unfinished narratives, to give us directly Herbert's plans and musings on the Dune universe. But that wouldn't fill up volumes of just terrible writing that, other than sharing a few names and historical points, has about as much to do with Herbert's writings and views as a Britney Spear's music video.

Hard to read.... (3, Insightful)

Kazrath (822492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731170)

The review indicates it was a hard book to get through because of the dialog used. I found that all of Tolkien's books were very difficult to read. I used to pick up the Hobbit if I was having difficulty sleeping and would be out cold after 10-15 pages. I find his over descriptive style very boring to read yet, I recognize that his accomplishments have enabled many of my favorite writers in creating some of my favorite stories/books. If it were not for Tolkien, the Fantasy/Adventure genre may have never taken.

Re:Hard to read.... (4, Interesting)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731434)

The Hobbit is as close as Tolkien got to writing a children's book, replete with witty asides throughout. My father was an English teacher, and he read it to me while we lived not far from the Bird and Baby, where he and the other members of the Inklings gathered for years. I was seven years old at the time, and it enthralled me. I recently read it to my son, and he enjoyed all save the most tedious passages. That said, English is not my wife's first language and she refused to read a word of it.

Not his only childrens book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22732290)

The Hobbit is as close as Tolkien got to writing a children's book

Actually, Tolkien wrote an actual-to-goodness children's book: Roverandom [wikipedia.org]. It's even short! It's not in Middle-Earth but it's still a fun story for all ages.

Re:Hard to read.... (2, Interesting)

MGROOP (926053) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732702)

I know you are probably referring to his stories on Middle-Earth. However, he did write other things, and one can only be described as a children's story:
Roverandom [amazon.com]
You may want to check wiki [wikipedia.org] on this as well. It mentions several other children's books. However, I have only read the one.

Re:Hard to read.... (3, Insightful)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731448)

Over descriptive? Seriously? Have you ever read The Tale of Two Cites? The Hobbit is a children's book compared to that. The Lord of the Rings is a harder read (especially The Fellowship of the Ring), but is still relatively simple compared to some of Dickens' books, and some of the other so-called "classics."

As a side note... has it ever occurred to anyone else that maybe the reason certain books are "classics" is because of school teachers requiring all their students to purchase and read those books year after year? I mean, if it weren't for being forced to read them in school, I would never have read The Tale of Two Cities, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Scarlet Letter, etc. How many people would really go to a bookstore, pick up one of those and think, "Wow, this looks like a really interesting, enjoyable read. I think I'll buy it"? I doubt not nearly enough for them to be considered "classics."

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731720)

Or Moby Dick. A single chapter describes Ishmael's room. Another chapter? Walking down the street to the ship. For ~560 pages of difficult text, very little in the way of action actually happens in that story.

I actually hadn't read The Lord of the Rings trilogy until a few years ago. I was surprised at how light a read it was, especially compared to some of the classic I remembered from my school days.

Re:Hard to read.... (2, Funny)

Sir.Cracked (140212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732090)

So, by that measure, Neal Stephenson should be an Instant Classic!!

An entire chaper describing the proper process of eating Capt. Crunch, a significant (10 pages or so) fragment of erotic fiction. Cryptonomicon should be required reading in schools!!!

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731796)

What? I picked up Frankenstein on a whim, and it's a fantastic book. As is Nicholas Nicholby, The Scarlet Letter, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and a number of other so-called "classics" that I've read. And my English training ended at the close of my mandatory courses in University.

Just because *you* don't like them doesn't mean they aren't great pieces of literature. Many require knowledge of their context to truly appreciate, and many certainly require an appreciation of writing as a form, as well as a medium for telling stories. But a classic is a classic for a reason, not just because some snooty writing professor deemed it so.

Re:Hard to read.... (2, Insightful)

oldwindways (934421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731960)

You may have a point in that the appeal of many "classic" works of literature is simply not there for grade school students. Personally I was never a fan of Dickens, something I attribute to the fact he was paid by the word and so tended to go on interminably. That being said, some classic stories have timeless themes which appeal to young minds. I take exception to your categorizing Frankenstein with the work of Dickens and Hawthorne; to a young man with an interest in science, the idea of creating a superhuman, and the dangers of toying with such forces presented a truly seductive theme.

Is our definition of "classic" literature skewed towards somewhat inaccessible titles, written in a style that is not entirely painless for Americans to endure? Absolutely.
Is this choice with out reason? Not at all. If you think struggling through Dickens today is a challenge, be glad that you don't have to learn Greek to read the works of Plato and Aristotle in their original form, not to mention adventures such as The Iliad, or The Odyssey.
Value does not come from simply being difficult, but in the case of many classic works of literature, the barriers to entry are more than outweighed by the knowledge to be harvested within.

Whether The Children of Hurin is such a classic is a question I can not answer, but do not discount it simply because it is not easy.

Re:Hard to read.... (2, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731966)

The important thing to remember about Dickens' work is that the stories were originally serialized. They were meant to be read in short bursts over the course of many many months. If you read them that way, they're wonderfully entertaining stories.

How many people would really go to a bookstore, pick up one of those and think, "Wow, this looks like a really interesting, enjoyable read. I think I'll buy it"? I doubt not nearly enough for them to be considered "classics."

Funny, because that's exactly what I do from time to time. And I've only been disappointed a few times, and I know that those times are purely due to personal taste. Many of the "classics" out there are such because they are great tellings of stories dealing with timeless themes.

Same here. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732350)

I loved Tale of Two Cities and I usually re-read it every 2 years or so and I never had to read it in school. The very descriptive style really puts me into the time about which Dickens was writing. Action is great, but sometimes you just want to really 'be there'.

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732002)

How many people would really go to a bookstore, pick up one of those and think, "Wow, this looks like a really interesting, enjoyable read. I think I'll buy it"? I doubt not nearly enough for them to be considered "classics."

*raises hand*

Moby Dick, Tale of Two Cities, Juneteenth, Bridge over San Luis Rey,... Some people like to read. More over some of those books you were forced to read in school are (*shock and awe*) actually good books.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that some books are assigned year after after because they are classics, not the way 'round?

How many people would really go to a bookstore, pick up one of those and think, "Wow, this looks like a really interesting, enjoyable read. I think I'll buy it"? I doubt not nearly enough for them to be considered "classics."

Would you consider Britney's works to be "classics"? Certainly a large number of people walk into a Walmart or Piggly Wiggly and think, "I think I'll buy it"?

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732298)

Replying to myself instead of each one individually...

I agree with most of your points, the classics do generally contain intriguing story lines, are thought provoking, etc. I was commenting mostly on the style in which they are written. I love to read, and enjoy many different genres. But a lot of the books that are labeled as classics are very difficult reads. Most of them, if I were not forced in some way to read them from beginning to end, I would have put them down after the first few chapters and never picked them up again. Dickens in particular has wonderful multi-leveled plots, but the style in which it he writes is simply intolerable to me.

As for the one who compared classic novels to Britney Spears... please. We all know she is the crowning singer of our time. /sarcasm

That whole bit was just something I've been toying with in my mind lately. Classics are supposed to be those books that withstand the test of time, those whose themes and ideas are still valid and intriguing decades after they had been written. Granted, that's true of most of the books I mention (no matter how painful to read). However, I simply wonder what percentage of total sales of those books are because students are required to read them for their schooling. Would they still be considered classics without those sales? Clearly, /. is not the place to ask these sorts of questions since most of us are the types who enjoy a good read, and many of us would pick those up and read them simply for the sake of having done so. But the general populace? Especially the general USA populace? I doubt many would pick up Moby Dick to read one rainy evening. I just wonder how the landscape of classics would change if students were allowed to choose the books they read for their schooling (of course only allowing books on the same reading level, of suitable subject matter, etc) instead of being forced to read the same classics year after year.

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732570)

The style is something that you get used to, that you have to give yourself time to adapt to. Rather like trying to read Ian Bank's Scottish dialogue. It's not too tough once you get into the rhythm of the text.

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

tcolberg (998885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732748)

I have to admit that I've read to one extent or another many classics as a part of my schooling, and many I didn't like. But there are a few that I LOVE, despite their reputation for being obtuse or obscenely long. Two of my classical favorites are Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities, specifically because like jizziknight mentions, because the themes in those novels are still appealing to this modern American.

As for the tales of Middle Earth, I've actually only read The Hobbit to completion. I started LotR: FotR, but fell asleep and eventually put it down somewhere in the Tom Bombadil chapter. I hate that goat-riding fucker with a passion. I'll pick it up again at some point.

Re:Hard to read.... (1)

mpiktas (740253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731460)

I will answer with the words of JRRT: I totaly agree with people, who say that LOTR is a boring and not interesting, I read their works and have the same opinion about them :) Not the exact words, but you should get the gist. It is taken from foreword to LOTR.

The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (4, Funny)

instantkarma1 (234104) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731214)

I hear he uses an antiquated writing style and BIG words, too.

Re:The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (1, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731276)

Shakespear was a hack.

There I said it and I'm glad.

Re:The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (2, Funny)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731978)

Shakespear was a hack.


This is slashdot. "Hack" means good here.

Re:The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22731582)

Not to mention the Bible. Now there's a huge compendium of obscure places and strange names! If the quoted passage on Morwen is typical, then the Children of Hurin must sound a lot like the Old Testament.

Re:The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22731706)

I totally agree! The sample sentence the reviewer uses reminded me of Shakespeare, and that is exactly what I enjoyed about reading the histories and Silmarillion. Then again, I also really enjoy reading Shakespeare which many people do not.

Re:The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (1)

Lucidus (681639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732210)

OK, I laughed - but your comment ignores this crucial distinction: where Shakespeare's writing is (mostly) brilliant, The Children of Hurin is frankly dull, even pedantic. I recognize that not everyone enjoys Tolkien's prose, and he is arguably not a great stylist, but a great many of us have found much to enjoy in his language, expecially his descriptions and his dialog. The Children of Hurin reads as if it was written by an editor rather than a talented writer - because, of course, it was.

Re:The reviewer had best not read Shakespeare (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732538)

This was not on the level of Shakespeare.
I very much enjoy Shakespeare's poetry.
Much of the Shakespeare that people read was never intended to be read. It is meant to be seen, and I do enjoy that as well.

That was funny - but just thought I'd make the distinctions.

stfp (1)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731252)

It's really great that he worked so hard to write the stories so many times over but sometimes as a writer you have to just STFP (ship the product (the F is silent)). Otherwise it'll be like TAOCP. It's a seven volume work, of which four will never, ever be published. All that work ain't worth Jack Schitt if you don't never ship the damn thing so people can do something useful with it.

Re:stfp (2, Informative)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731340)

after a writer is sufficiently comfortable with the amount of money he has, he is only writing for himself (and maybe his fans). There is no need to ship product. I think the truely great writers don't typically focus on shipping, they write because they want to, because they need to, not because it pays the bills.

Re:stfp (4, Insightful)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731386)

Tolkien didn't really write these stories for an audience. He wrote them for his own enjoyment, out of his love for languages, for the mythical world he had created, and for the characters who populated that world. The Hobbit he wrote for his children, and The Lord of the Rings he wrote for all of the readers who wanted to know more about Hobbits.

Re:stfp (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731456)

There's a rather long history to all of this. JRRT had every intention of publishing, and his original plan was to ship it with The Lord of the Rings (which was in his mind a sequel to the Silmarillion, which he'd already been working on in one form or another since World War I). Allen & Unwin were interested, but wanted to get what they viewed as the more marketable LotR out. Getting LotR finished and into publishable form was a huge undertaking, and Tolkien was still, during this period, an Oxford professor, and had other duties as well.

There's no doubt that Tolkien had a major problem with the Silmarillion, in that he never completed a variant before being called away to something else, or being his own worst enemy in changing the structure of it. But there were key events that did get in the way. He had to produce a second edition of the Hobbit to bring it more in line with LotR, and then there was the Ace Books debacle (they claimed LotR was in the public domain and printed an unauthorized American edition) which required that Tolkien turn his attention away from his work on the Silmarillion to produce a 2nd edition that would clarify any American copyright concerns.

By the time he truly had time to work on the Silmarillion, he was in his late 70s and really no longer had the stamina to produce the work he wanted, spending the last years, by all accounts, tinkering with his invented languages and giving his son, Christopher, who he planned to be his literary executor, as much information as he could.

Not the best title for the German speaking... (2, Funny)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731326)

For those versed with the more colorful aspects of the German language, Huren is the plural of Hure, meaning whore....

So, Children of Whores? I know, unintentional, but entertaining nonetheless.... even with it being HurIn, not HurEn....

Re:Not the best title for the German speaking... (1)

rpresser (610529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731580)

Considering that Turin ends up shtupping and impregnating his sister Nienor, almost apropos.

Re:Not the best title for the German speaking... (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731962)

There's a nice long history of incestuous couplings in German history and literature. Siegelinde and Sigmund of Die Valkure for one, which is of course based on earlier germanic legends...

And sorry Star Wars fans, Luke and Leia are borrowed right out of this tradition. Fortunately Lucas had the common sense to put in Han Solo to foil their germanic destiny...

PS Even John Williams 'leitmotifs', musical themese for characters, in the soundtracks borrows heavily from Wagner's approach in The Ring Cycle.

I read the Silmarillion twice in a row... (4, Funny)

slashbart (316113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731402)

and the second time it was enjoyable.

That was 28 years ago though, when I once read the Lord of the Rings in one go, between 21:00 and 04:30. That was nice (I skipped the poems though).

Re:I read the Silmarillion twice in a row... (4, Funny)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731982)

Page 48 " ... and the elves began to sing" flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip, page 234 ..

tolkien makes me want to smoke crack (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22731450)

"Hurin wedded Morwen, the daught of Baradund son of Gregolas of the House of Beor, and she was thus of close kin to Beren One-hand. Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Eledhwen, the elfen-fair; but she was somewhat stern of mood and proud. The sorrows of the house of Beor saddened her heart; for she came ans an exile to Dorlomin from Dorthonion after the ruin of the Bragollach."

This is how the LoTR read to me. Every single character encountered had to have their name expressed in at least four languages and a genealogical history of their families previous seven generations explored. Then the hobbits would hold an impromptu poetry slam to transfer the names and family history into fifteen verses of iambic pentameter. Tolkien blows the Horn of Gondor.

Re:tolkien makes me want to smoke crack (1)

mpiktas (740253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731680)

Hurin wedded Morwen, the daught of Baradund son of Gregolas of the House of Beor, and she was thus of close kin to Beren One-hand. Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Eledhwen, the elfen-fair; but she was somewhat stern of mood and proud. The sorrows of the house of Beor saddened her heart; for she came ans an exile to Dorlomin from Dorthonion after the ruin of the Bragollach.
Once you know all the names and stories it is not so bad, and actually very good, since it gives a lot of information and context. If you do not know it, you just can skip it. When I read the book I am always interested in story, the descriptions can always be omitted. If you are reading these lines having read the story of Beren and Luthien, the first thought is hurrah more cool stuf :)

Re:tolkien makes me want to smoke crack (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731904)

This is how the LoTR read to me. Every single character encountered had to have their name expressed in at least four languages and a genealogical history of their families previous seven generations explored.

Which you'll find is even more important in Sil, since the story takes place over 500 years and mostly through the line of a few people. Knowing that Beren is from Beor's house of men tells you alot about him without needing go into each character's history as they're introduced.

The reviewer is too nice: (2, Interesting)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731464)

The problem is that Children of Hurin has little plot, coherence, or structure. I wrote about it here [wordpress.com], which sums my (negative) feelings about the book.

Re:The reviewer is too nice: (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731652)

Considering that it's pretty much yanked out of the Silmarillion and put on its own, it's little wonder. Still, one must remember that JRRT was, to some degree, emulating the Classical and Medieval chroniclers like the Venerable Bede, in that they were reporting history, rather than laying out stories. There is a key difference, and unless one is used to the style that he invoked in the Silmarillion, it's not going to make much sense.

I happen to like that style, but I still feel the book was somewhat pointless. It's going to be a major disappointment for those whose interest lies mainly with the movies or LotR and the Hobbit, and for those whose bent is for the Silmarillion in all its forms, it's just an editorially cobbled together version including elements from the 1930s Silmarillion, the Grey Annals and the 1950s rewrite.

Re:The reviewer is too nice: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22732766)

Note: I have read The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Book Of Lost Tales and The Children Of Hurin. So this might be a bit biased as I am a huge fan of JRR Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien.

If you mean that it has little plot that *we didn't know about before* then you are right. All the events in this book I read already in The Silmarillion and The Lost Tales.

That said, I think there is quite a bit of plot in it. Heck I think you could actually make two or(if stretched) three movies out of it.

Turin in Beleriand
Turin among the outlaws and in The House Of Ransom
Turin in Nargothrond
Turin among the forest men(don't recall their name)

Need more plot? I think it's the *details* that suffered... Going over the book in my head I can clearly remember a lot of stuff Turin did and said, yet I cannot relate to his character the way I could to Frodo after the Lord Of The Rings or Bilbo after The Hobbit.

Yes, the family relationships are pretty tiring, but there aren't as many characters that have a full family tree in this book.

In the end it comes down to this: This book was not made to be read before going to bed, it was made to take you on a trip through an OLD world, and the language is a little older than what we have today(nowhere close to the Silmarillion though, mind you)

When he means hard... (1)

Canosoup (1153521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731506)

I'v read the Hobbit and Lord of the RIngs, and greatly enjoyed both them. While they were difficult reading, Children of Hurin is substantially more difficult to read, let alone comprehend. I had to reread a section several times to understand what was trying to be said. Good book otherwise.

Re:When he means hard... (1)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731810)

Dad read to us The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and about half of The Simaralion back in 3rd grade. And Steven Hawking's A Brief History of Time in 5th grade... I guess that's why people think I'm such a nerd...

Tolkien themes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22731536)

Now all of you that keep battling against Christianity are not allowed to read the Tolkien books or watch the movies. As
you may not know, Tolkien was a Christian and has a Christian theme to his stories. So you cant have your cake and eat it to.

Re:Tolkien themes (0, Flamebait)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731574)

It's typical of those who repeat something to which they have no knowledge that they make these sorts of moronic and shallow "observations".

Yes, he was Christian, and more specifically Catholic, and while there is a deep level of Catholicism in his works, he never intended to write an allegorical variant of Christianity (unlike his good friend CS Lewis). You can safely read his works without being a Christian, and even get it. He was never preachy, unlike Lewis, who, particularly in the Narnia series, could get positively annoying.

Great book, lousy review (3, Insightful)

Dave21212 (256924) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731554)

Sorry Mr. Peck, but that was the most schizophrenic review I have ever read :) I can't decide if you love it or hated it. Perhaps you should stick to reviewing the latest Walkman or Digital Photo Frames [amazon.com] :)

"it is just not written in a manner that is going to connect well with a modern audience"
- Shall I suggest the comic book, or the new blog version perhaps ? (just kidding)

I've read nearly everything in the series, and this book matches up well to the style and stories that you'll find in The Similrillion or Lost Tales. If you enjoyed those, especially Lost Tales, you may enjoy Children of Hurin. Yes, it's not a style that mimics the latest J.D. Robb, but then it isn't supposed to, that's one of the things that appeal to me about the text.

Re:Great book, lousy review (1)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731986)

I beg to differ, as I stated here [slashdot.org].

The individual sections of The Silmarillion at least had some narrative cohesion behind them and some development, however minor, of the characters, and it was also designed more a history than a story. This made it different from LOTR and also showed enough narrative to demonstrate how Tolkien could have made it into a real novel; Letter 347 shows that Tolkien continued to work on The Silmarillion or on similar material to the end of his life.

Children of Hurin is closer to the weakest sections of The Lost Tales. If you actually liked Children of Hurin, I'm glad for you: but even Tolkien thought of its material as sketches/background rather than being fit for publication, and there was a very good reason he did.

Re:Great book, lousy review (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732364)

I'm not sure how you can justify this, considering this book is largely taken from the 1950s version of the Turin saga (to be found in the Book of Lost Tales), which is simply an expanded rewrite of the 1930s version. To make this clear, the version of the Turin saga found in the published Silmarillion is also largely the 1930s version (with, as I recall, a bit of the Grey Annals tossed in). I mean, you could pretty much take the BoLT/Children of Hurin version and drop it into the published Silmarillion with little or noticeable difference other than that the Mim the Dwarf and Nargothrond sections are longer, and (I'm going from memory here), there is more detail on Turin's childhood and time in Doriath (in particular expanded Saeros scenes).

Re:Great book, lousy review (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732696)

I loved it and hated it. It is a beautiful story - locked in a format that makes the reader work too hard to get the beauty out. If I had not grown up a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien I'd have probably not cared for it at all. And I'm getting a few jabs about "Oh noes, it's too hard!" but the truth is I'm not stupid. I'm no genius but I do love good literature and can work through stuff that is not considered lower shelf. Probably one of my favorite books of all time is Anna Karenina. But I enjoy fluff novels on occasion as well.

My wife loves the picture frame and I really like the walkman. It's better than my last nano and cheaper too.

I read a lot and I thought - hey if I'm gonna read, I might as well review. So I set up a blog to store them [geekbook.org] and submit them to slashdot for fun. I'm not a professional critic, I don't have a literature degree or anything, but it's fun. I have to say I really enjoy the feedback negative and positive.

I got this book as a gift last year. (1)

fialar (1545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731636)

I really enjoyed it. There's not a whole lot of material out there about the First Age aside from the Silmarillion. Though it does overwhelm the reader with proper names and places, I found myself flipping back to the map to remember where places were.

But all in all, I enjoyed it.

About the style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22731696)

Contains spoilermaterial!!

Actually the tale about Turin and Nienor is pastiche of "Kullervo" -tale from finnish epic poetry collection "Kalevala". Same kind of stuff as Gilgamesh, Odyssey, Beowulf etc... The Children of Hurin follows quite literally its forefather: antihero with traumatic childhood and lost home, important stepfather, incest relationship with lost sister, waterfall, suicide by talking sword...

With all this I'm trying to bring out Tolkiens goal to create mythological past, an epic, for the Middle-Earth. Henceworth "difficult" writing style. And I admit it can bore quite many readers but don't take it as a bad style choice. It's more about the cause than the effect. Alas, the audience today doesn't admire old classics as it used to. Maybe more Coleridge for you anglosaxons?

Why not read the original? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22731816)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalevala [wikipedia.org]

"Many scholars have noted the similarities between the tales of Turin and his misfortunes and the Kalevala of Finnish myth, a collection of tales that Tolkien was intimately familiar with."
http://www.tolkien-online.com/the-children-of-hurin.html [tolkien-online.com]

Re:Why not read the original? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732432)

Many scholars have noticed? Wow! Considering Tolkien himself frequently gave credit to the Finnish language and Finnish myths as major inspirations, I'm so impressed with their keen eyes for similarities.

It's Tolkein so it must be OK (0, Flamebait)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731964)

Inheritors of perpetual intellectual property created by long-dead author continue to milk the cash cow, proudly joining the ranks of such luminaries as Brian Herbert.

If it's Mickey Mouse, it's evil, but if it vaguely resembles geek fare it gets a pass?

Re:It's Tolkein so it must be OK (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732016)

HUGE Farking difference in thise case.

#1. Tolkien assigned Christopher -- a fully fledged professor in his own right -- as his literary successor. It was JRR's DESIRE to have his son continue this work.

#2. Christopher is extremely dilligent to point out where he has supplemented material, and what he has changed from his notes. His openess about the process is to be lauded; he also presents it as 'here's the best i can do with what was available to me'. He's not writing original work e.g. The Hobbit 2: The Quickening.

#3. The problem the slashdot community has with Disney is that they built their empire on public domain materials -- Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, etc -- and then became copyright litigous bastards.

Re:It's Tolkein so it must be OK (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732330)

Other than one single chapter in the published silmarillion, CJRT has not written a single word within the stories of his father's that he has published. He does add a considerable amount of editorial material to these books, but that is clearly marked out from JRRT's own writing.

Or, in other words, you're a complete uninofmred retard if you think that what Brian Herbert is doing is somehow analogous to what CJRT has done.

This book is great for the geek (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731990)

If you can follow it, or take the time to read it very carefully (like you need to do with most of Tolkein's works) it isn't a half bad book.

The point tha talways drove me nuts though was Turin. Was it just me, or did it seem like whenever the narrator wasn't looking Turin was jacking up on HGH and steroids. His mannerisms put roid-rage to shame.

So many miss the point (4, Interesting)

WeirdJohn (1170585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22731996)

What many fail to notice is that the language used in the Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin is very similar to that in The Tale of Arwen and Aragorn (found in the Appendices to The Return of the King).

Tolkien was not an author of fantasy stories most of the time - he was a Professor of Languages at one of the oldest Universities in the world. He was one of the authorities on Dark Age Germanic, Scandinavian and Celtic Languages and History. He was also one of the main contributors to The Oxford Dictionary, which will probably turn out to be his greatest literary accomplishment in a hundred years or two.

The fact is that people will either enjoy the archaic language forms used by Tolkien, or they will hate it. It is a great story (if somewhat depressing), but is not, nor is it intended to be, a story about Hobbits, nor is it a gentle read like Farmer Giles of Ham. Personally I enjoy fiction that forces me to slow down and 'enjoy the scenery', rather than race through to the conclusion, but then I enjoy Russion Science Fiction for the same reasons.

Re:So many miss the point (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732814)

As I understand it, The saga of the family of Hurin was inspired by the Greek tales of the House of Atreus, a set of Greek tragedies. (something that Frank Herbet would eventually attach to be the root of his Atreides family in Dune)

It was a good book (1)

a3I300I)y (1253026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732048)

I read this in a few hours, and I thought it was good. I was hoping for something new, and didn't really get it, but it was a good read. I think the joy of books like the Silmarillion, Lost Tales, ect is in finding stuff out. After reading LOTR for the first time in 5th grade I had a lot of questions about plot events and backstory and I have found it very satisfying to read all the other books and figure everything about. So if you don't really care about what happened in Tolkein's universe, this book probably isn't for you, but if you don't care, how can you go around calling yourself a geek?

Pronounce? (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732054)

The first is that there is a constant use of proper names, for places and people, that for most readers will be unfamiliar. Not only that, they will be difficult to pronounce.


When I read a book and encounter a name that I can't "pronounce", I substitute. Supposed the main character has a name Tmaegedornrea or something.... I substitute "T-guy", "the main character", "the main character's sidekick", "bob's friend", "the evil wizard", "the bad guy", "the king of dragons", or some other made up pronunciation "Tee-meg-dorna", or something else when I see that name written and move on, understanding that character's role in the story. There are *lots* of names in JRRT's work, but hanging yourself up on pronunciation is not a reason to get emo about the book. This is a simple trick that most people learn early on, I'd have thought.

Re:Pronounce? (2, Informative)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732284)

I've actually been fine with Tolkien's names because they somehow feel less like he pulled a bunch of syllables out of his ass--because he didn't, unlike a lot of fantasy authors seem to do. Reading biographies and commentaries on his work, it looks like he took a lot of names from English/Germanic/Norse literature and adapted them a bit to fit with his languages... he was a philologist (sp?) and thus should have been able to put together names that evoke a certain "feel". It's hard to explain but hopefully some of my intent comes across.

Re:Pronounce? (1)

Bucky340 (1020993) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732578)

I agree. His books are a delight for a language dork. Every time I reread something of his, I always find something new that I hadn't caught in previous readings. Finding works of word-nerdness like Tolkien's are magical moments--rare treasures.

I have serious issues with some modern fantasy stuff that seems written by decent enough imaginations but clearly shows a lack for a true love and curiosity for language. Not to mention the hypersexuality of that crap--but that's a different cigarette butt for another drought-stricken forest floor.

Relationships (1)

devinoni (13244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732220)

"Hurin wedded Morwen, the daught of Baradund son of Gregolas of the House of Beor, and she was thus of close kin to Beren One-hand. Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Eledhwen, the elfen-fair; but she was somewhat stern of mood and proud. The sorrows of the house of Beor saddened her heart; for she came as an exile to Dorlomin from Dorthonion after the ruin of the Bragollach."

First it should be Bregolas of the House of Beor, and not Gregolas. Morwen is the granddaughter of Bregolas, a Lord of the House of Beor. Beren is Bregolas' nephew, thus making Morwen and Beren first-cousins once-removed. Because of her beauty she is also called Edhelwen.

Dor-lómin is the land that she was exiled to. She was originally from Dorthonion, a region that overrun by Morgoth during the Dagor Bragollach (Battle of the Southern Flame).

Interestingly her relationship with Beren makes her Elrond's second cousins twice removed and also first cousin three times removed.

Read many of the variants (1)

zhrike (448699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732386)

The story that provides the backdrop for The Children of Hurin has always been one of my all-times favorite tales. The style is different, but more epic in scope, and more heroic in nature than his earlier published works, which, ironically, take place thousands of years (and two ages) later in the same world as does this one. That said, I also got this when it was first released, and read it quickly, and was unable to identify any significant changes or additions to what had been published in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. Turin is an incredibly tragic hero, a great character, and the themes here are more adult than in LoTR and The Hobbit, and I am here referring to the larger works that like behind this particular story.

Not for this time (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732482)

Tolkien deliberately wrote in an "antiquated" manner in order to make the stories seem authentically old, as he was inventing an ancient history. He also had no intention of publishing his works, as far as I can recall. The Hobbit was a sidebar in the Great Story, and LOTR was requested by Allen & Unwin as "more about Hobbits" (obviously only the first and last few chapters fulfill this).

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The only problem I had was identifying Turin through his numerous name changes. I also thought there could have been more about Nienor, but Tolkien was never adept at, nor probably as interested in, female characters.

For the record, I've read the Silmarillion cover to cover three times, and have never had any issues with Tolkien's archaic style.

I wish I could exploit *my* dad (-1, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732698)

Unfortunately my father was just a non-famous loser--making it impossible for me to write my own stories, claim he wrote them to get them published, and make lots of money.

This could not interest me less... (2, Interesting)

reidconti (219106) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732706)

I know I'm going to get modded down for this...

and I'm not complaining about this item being posted, because I don't expect all articles to interest me (and it clearly is news for nerds)...

But seriously, why are nerds so caught up in weird fantasy stories? Whenever religion comes up, Slashdotters decry the made up fairy tales of the bible (or whatever holy book), calling all followers ignorant morons. Yet they fall all over themselves to hear about some elf boy's magical adventures in Neverland Ranch.. er, wait, Middle Earth. My bad.

Double standard? Is it because readers of fantasy books understand that it's fantasy, where readers of holy books take them too literally?

Re:This could not interest me less... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22732840)

How is enjoying a fantasy story a double standard as compared to not believing in a religion. Are you that logically challenged?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...